Orlando City

Orlando City at Nashville SC: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from Orlando City’s second 1-0 victory against Nashville to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City traveled to Tennessee to take on Nashville SC in the second match of the best-of-three, first-round series in the MLS playoffs — try saying that three times quickly. Both teams played very much as they have against each other recently and fortunately the result was exactly the same as it was in Exploria Stadium a week ago. Here are my five takeaways from Orlando City’s 1-0 victory against Nashville SC.

An Early Start

Orlando City was on the front foot from nearly the start, and the Lions created a few chances in the first couple of minutes. In the sixth minute, Ivan Angulo seemingly wasn’t able to get the ball out from under his feet in the box — an all too often occurrence — but this time he was able to turn, getting the ball on his right foot to take the shot. It glanced off the defender’s foot and lofted over Joe Willis’ hands into the back of the net. Orlando City could not have asked for a better start.

Chippy and Disjointed

Following the goal, things got really chippy. There were three yellow cards between the 23rd and 27th minutes. There were players down, players nearly fighting, and even Oscar Pareja had words with several Nashville players near the sideline. Fortunately, he didn’t do anything to get a warning. It was the type of scrappy play you get with two very good teams that are just maybe starting to create some animosity. Fortunately things eventually settled down, though it did result in nine minutes of stoppage time to end the first half.

The Penalty that Wasn’t

In the 29th minute, Orlando City was running a counter attack with Ivan Angulo once again put pressure on the Nashville defense. Defender Lukas MacNaughton went to ground with the ball going under him and then hitting his right arm. According to Allen Chapman, he had to put his arm somewhere as he went to ground, so it was not an unnatural position. In fact, penalties for handball when it’s the player’s arm underneath him have not been given as they may have been in the past. Frankly, I think that is a bunch of malarky, but I am biased. Of course, PRO referees never get any calls wrong, especially when it comes to potential penalties in Orlando City matches — engage sarcasm font.

Junior’s Golden Chances

Junior Urso had two opportunities to help Orlando City get a second goal after coming on but was unable to make it happen. The first was when he took a shot from just outside the box rather than trying to slip a pass in to Duncan McGuire. You could tell from McGuire’s reaction that he also felt that would be the better option. The second chance found Urso with the ball moving in behind the defense with only the keeper to beat, but before he could settle the ball, Nashville’s Sean Davis made an emergency play to deflect the shot out of play.

Hold, Give, Recover, Hold

The second half saw Orlando City do its absolute best to hold possession of the ball to allow the seconds to tick off the clock. When Nashville got the ball back, the Lions were able to get it back relatively quickly, limiting Nashville’s chances for an equalizer. Orlando City then went back to holding the ball. Even as Nashville put on more offensive substitutions, Pareja countered with some defensive substitutes but also Urso and Martin Ojeda in the midfield. The final subs were Ramiro Enrique and Antonio Carlos, though neither Robin Jansson nor Rodrigo Schlegel came off. It was typical Pareja late match strategy and ultimately it worked.

That is what I saw in Orlando City’s 1-0 victory over Nashville SC to advance to the conference semifinals. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


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